NHTSA’s preliminary estimates of safety benefits of V2V technology show that just two safety applications – Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA) – could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and 1,083 lives could be saved per year.
By Mike Sheldrick, Senior Editor
Let’s give the government credit where it’s due: 30 years ago, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began programs designed to apply electronic and software systems to the transportation system. Those programs were first envisioned when the reigning technology was not far removed from punched cards and room-sized mainframes.
The goal was to move more people more safely and more efficiently over the existing highway system. Even then, it was clear that the golden era of highway building, if not over, soon would be, especially in urban areas. Only now, thirty years later, are some of the more advanced ideas floated back then being realized.
No, this is not the result of government ineptitude (sorry, libertarians). The nascent technologies talked of then were not powerful enough, pervasive enough, nor inexpensive enough. Yet thanks to the persistence of FHWA, the Department of Transportation, and the Administration under President Bush, Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act, popularly known then as ISTEA. Passage of the bill was only secured with torturous bi-partisan, big-state, small-state, and urban vs. rural negotiations, and maybe most important a slathering of pork.
Right from the start, back in the early 80s, the notion of vehicle-to-vehicle communication was sought after by FHWA. Now, finally, we are getting closer. Last week, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice of a proposed rule making that could require vehicles produced after 2020 to be equipped with V2V technology. Not mentioned, but quite possibly, vehicle-to-roadside communication (V2R) might also be included in the rule making.
NHTSA’s preliminary estimates of safety benefits show that just two safety applications – Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA) – could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and 1,083 lives could be saved per year. Put another way, V2V technology could help drivers avoid more than half of these types of crashes that would otherwise occur by providing advance warning.
LTA warns drivers not to turn left in front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and IMA warns them if it is not safe to enter an intersection due to a high probability of colliding with one or more vehicles. Additional applications could also help drivers avoid imminent danger through forward collision, blind spot, do not pass, and stop light/stop sign making
The full benefits won’t be achieved until all vehicles are capable of communicating with each other and with the roadside. That could be decades away, but there are many benefits even in the interim for cars that are equipped. The FCC is in charge of the broadcast spectrum and is being urged by NHTSA, and the automobile industry to make bandwidth available to V2V.